UPDATE 4/5/13: Lauren is launching her 4th book, 5 Minutes to Stress Relief..How to Release Fear, Worry and Doubt Instantly, April 23rd. Congrats, Lauren!
By Stacey Gualandi/June 12, 2012
Got stress? Well, author Lauren Miller has got the solution. Her latest book, 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Stressing Out, is the go-to guide for all of you stress junkies. Miller is known as Google’s #1 stress relief expert and she should know. She is a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, but at 38, and she overcame two of life’s biggest challenges: cancer and divorce, at the same time.
“It’s definitely worth your attention on a daily basis to find out a way to de-stress.” Lauren Miller
But Miller’s work is never done. Twice a month, she hosts free “hotseat” video coaching calls to address the triggers in life that stress us out, currently focusing on phobias and procrastination. And earlier this year, she and well-known motivational speaker Les Brown launched www.StressSolutionsUniversity.com that also equips people with the “mindset skills and physiological techniques to maintain inner peace, clarity of focus and a sense of purpose.”
The following is an excerpt from my enlightening interview with her on a recent Women’s Eye Radio Show. I learned the best way to erase my stress is tapping, rebounding, and literally shaking it off!!
LAUREN: The definition that I like to use is that it’s simply a signal within your body giving you the opportunity to identify and adjust your perception of any situation. It truly is a signal, whether a headache, neck tension, the inability to focus, fragmented thinking, or procrastination.
These are all the results of the deer in the headlights experience of life, when we see things outside of us that threaten, that prevent us, from remembering our capability and our worth. They basically put us in a state of amnesia.
EYE: Your background is in psychology. You’ve written four books now on stress and your own personal journey, and you speak all over the world. Do you still get stressed out?
LAUREN: Oh, heck yes. Are you kidding? I’m constantly de-stressing myself because when you hear about the trauma, abuse, and difficult times that human beings walk through in life, and you’ve gone through them yourself, it’s difficult not to feel some of that weight. I apply this all of the time throughout the day, constantly.
I’ve gotten the craziest looks in public when I know I’m between clients, and I have to do a quick errand, and I’ve got to clear myself of the previous focus within the session. I’ll be in the grocery store, pushing the cart and “tapping,” pushing on some major circuit breakers in the body that get turned off.
EYE: I’ve been a high stress person for a long time. Do you think you are one?
LAUREN: I’ve always been a very playful and curious human being. When you’re playful and curious in life, you tend to move with flexibility. If you get hit this way, you just kind of bend, and you’ll go that way. When one door closes, you start shifting your perception, “Okay. Where’s the next open door?” When a human being is stressed, the first thing that happens is tunnel vision.
“When you’re stressed, don’t look down…you’re fixating on life that’s already happened or fears of the future.”
EYE: Well, I go blank. I can’t think.
LAUREN: What’s happening is anytime that you have a perceived threat outside of you, thoughts come up, and you think, “Oh, my gosh. I’m not gonna be able to this. I’m not okay.” With that perceived threat, the front part of the brain starts taking in the sensory.
It shuts off the back part of the brain, which is responsible for processing the information that you’re taking in and tuning into available options and creative solutions. What happens is you get restricted breathing, and you get the deer in the headlights. Just focusing on physiology has a lot of value to it.
When you’re stressed, don’t look down. People say, “Oh, you’re downcast.” When your eyes go down, you’re fixating on life that’s already happened or fears of the future. Simply raising your eyes starts to activate parts of your brain that can be responsible for coming up with creative solutions.
EYE: I’m happy to report that you are five years out – cancer free?
LAUREN: Yes, five years off medication, three years considered in remission. I rejoice.
EYE: I’m sure that was devastating news. You were diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a divorce right at the same time. Wow! How did you deal with it?
LAUREN: You know what I did? I gave up on defining myself by what I do and I started being, if that makes sense. I really had farmed out my sense of identity to what I was doing and not doing, and that’s why there was stress around the divorce.
I got the, “Are you sitting down?” phone call one week prior to my final divorce court date after 17 years. Everybody in my tribe is still married. Marriage is sacred in my tribe. I was not doing the right thing in my mind. As a result my body was shutting down because the stress of resisting what was happening had an effect at the cellular level.
LAUREN: Oh, absolutely. One of my favorite statistics is from the Harvard Medical Journal where they conclude that 80 percent of disease in the body is stress related. Another one was a landmark 20-year study out of the University of London that concluded that stress is a contributing factor to heart disease and cancer than high cholesterol foods and smoking.
I’ve lived through the connection between stress and the physiological response to stress. That’s why I’m vigilant in my own life as well as empowering people with the skills needed so that they can de-stress on a daily basis. It really can come down to a life and death matter. It’s worth your attention. It’s definitely worth your attention on a daily basis to find out a way to de-stress.
EYE: What were the things you did? You mentioned tapping earlier. Is that one of many ways that you deal with stress?
LAUREN: Sure. That’s one of the energy psychologies that I use. One of my absolute favorites is referred to as tapping therapy or EFT: emotional freedom techniques that was originally founded by George Goodwin and Dr. Roger Callahan, a psychiatrist and a chiropractor.
Then it was perfected, actually simplified and expanded, by Gary Craig, who was an engineer. Just as we use EKG’s to study the function of the brain and the heart, this basically is tuning in to the function of the whole body.
“Give permission to be where you’re at and then tap on it.”
EYE: It’s literally tapping on yourself, right?
LAUREN: Here’s a crash course. Tell me something that has stressed you out recently.
EYE: This is good. I had sent out an invitation via email to friends to attend an event. Many people responded and that’s fine, but there were a slew of people who just never responded to the email, and it annoys me, gets under my skin, and I obsess over it for days.
LAUREN: What was your predominant emotion? Were you feeling rejected? Were you feeling overlooked? What was it?
“How hard is it to respond to an email?”
EYE: I was just bummed. How hard is it to respond to an email?
LAUREN: You were angry about about a lack of response?
LAUREN: No judgments! Give yourself permission to be where you’re at and then tap on it. Tap on the soft part of your hand—they refer to it as the karate chop—just as you would break a board with the soft part. You just take one hand and tap on that part on either side.
You can take your right hand and tap on the soft part of your left palm with your hand facing up. Then just repeat after me, “I was stressed out because I didn’t get the responses I wanted from this email… and it made me so mad.”
EYE: Of course, I’m laughing about it now, but it really made me mad.
LAUREN: Right. So that’s your truth. Keep repeating: “I just wanted them to respond.” How easy is that? Even though I didn’t get the response I wanted, I’m willing to remember that I am okay with or without their responses.”
EYE: It’s so silly. Why waste all that energy! I feel better now…
LAUREN: It basically puts it in perspective instantly. Then you can start tapping a sequence of points, nine points throughout the body, just saying a reminder phrase. One of them is located in the beginning of the eyebrows, the outside of the eye on the bone with eye socket just under the temple.
And then under the eye on the cheekbone. Under the nose. Under the lips. The collarbone points. Under the arm. I usually add the top of the head. You just say a reminder phrase: “ I won’t respond to anger…” Whatever it is, you just keep going. Then you just check in with your emotions. You rate it before you begin on a scale of 1 to 10. How much of an emotional charge do I have around this issue?
EYE: What else can people do to release stress?
LAUREN: Rebounding is really powerful. Rebounding basically drains the lymphatic system along with the toxins. I bounce on the tramp – I try to bounce at least 5 to 10 minutes every day – because it increases the flexibility at the cellular level; it decreases inflammation; it helps drain the lymphatic system.
The physiological benefits of rebounding or bouncing up and down for 5 to 10 minutes a day are profound. I’m always studying the various stress relief techniques and healing techniques around the world. The one I love is done in India and also done by the Bushmen of Africa. It’s done globally to accomplish the same thing, except it has humor to it, because you’re actually “shaking things off.”
EYE: How do I do that? What do we do? Just literally shake?
LAUREN: Whatever it is that’s causing your anxiety, just imagine shaking it out through your body as you are stomping your feet; you’re shaking your hands; and you also make a vibration: hum. You just keep doing it. You end up cracking yourself up. Then you get into the physiological benefits of laughter.
EYE: Your book, 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Stressing Out, is great. There are several tips that I really like. Is there one tip that really speaks to a lot of people when it comes to stress?
LAUREN: I would say the one that I focus on a daily basis is to release all attachments and the drug of approval. I talk about both of those things there. But, literally, I pray for that every day.
“Dear God, grant me the grace to release all attachments and the need for status or approval or recognition.” Because if I don’t say it, then I lose sight, lose connection, to the mission for which my heart beats because I’m distracted with worrying about what people think.
It’s basically moving back to the freedom that we all had once—from zero to 5-years-old—and perhaps a little earlier when we did not care about what people thought, and there was no judgment either on other people when they did crazy things. It was simple observation.
EYE: From this point forward, do you have fear of the future?
LAUREN: I apply what I preach. I read my book every day.
EYE: Anybody can do it. It’s something as simple as taking the book. You can read it, and you
can say it loud.
LAUREN: I apply it every single day because I know how essential my choice for remembering my capability, remembering my worth, remembering my connection with God and therefore my ability to be able to move through any dark night of the soul experience in life, is crucial to create an environment of inner peace which my cells respond to.
I’m dedicated to do that and to empower people to do that because you can totally shift your physiology by your choice; to be the gatekeeper of your thoughts and your actions; and to align yourself with what you value most on a daily basis because this is what is you contemplate when you’re on your death bed, because I’ve been there. These are things that are truly essential.
EYE: Thanks Lauren. I’ll keep on tappin’!!!